AM Best Information Services




OCTOBER 23, 2012 12:00 AM (EDT)

A.M. Best Downgrades Ratings of Columbia Lloyds Insurance Company and MDOW Insurance Company


CONTACTS:
 
Najam Sharif
Financial Analyst
(908) 439-2200, ext. 5326
najam.sharif@ambest.com

Joseph Burtone
Assistant Vice President
(908) 439-2200, ext. 5125
joseph.burtone@ambest.com

Rachelle Morrow
Senior Manager, Public Relations
(908) 439-2200, ext. 5378
rachelle.morrow@ambest.com

Jim Peavy
Assistant Vice President, Public Relations
(908) 439-2200, ext. 5644
james.peavy@ambest.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OLDWICK, N.J. - OCTOBER 23, 2012 12:00 AM (EDT)
A.M. Best Co. has downgraded the financial strength rating to B++ (Good) from A- (Excellent) and issuer credit ratings to “bbb” from “a-” of Columbia Lloyds Insurance Company (Columbia Lloyds) and its wholly owned and 100% reinsured subsidiary, MDOW Insurance Company (MDOW) (both domiciled in Houston, TX), which are members of the Columbia Lloyds Companies. The outlook for all ratings is negative.

The rating actions reflect Columbia Lloyds’ declining surplus as a result of its ongoing unfavorable underwriting performance due to adverse weather-related events, fire losses and sharp increase in reinsurance costs driven by Hurricane Ike. In addition, recent growth in Arkansas and Oklahoma has adversely impacted the group’s results as most of the recent significant losses in 2012 occurred in these two states. Consistent underwriting losses and an increase in net premiums written due to rapid growth in Arkansas and Oklahoma have resulted in a surplus decline through the first half of 2012. In addition, Columbia Lloyds is significantly dependent upon reinsurance as it has increased its quota share from 33% to 70% in 2011. As a property writer with most of its business risks currently concentrated in Texas, Columbia Lloyds has been subjected to weather-related activity and strong competition. While growth in Arkansas and Oklahoma has expanded Columbia Lloyds’ market presence outside of Texas, exposure to additional weather-related exposures remains.

Negative rating factors are partially offset by Columbia Lloyds’ adequate risk-adjusted capitalization, conservative investment philosophy and favorable balance sheet liquidity. The losses from Hurricane Ike have been settled and should not impact the companies’ future financial results. Management has implemented several corrective actions and initiatives to improve performance and reduce volatility, which include significant rate increases especially in Arkansas and Oklahoma, minimum deductibles as well as lowering the concentration of risk in the Harris County area of Texas. In addition, Columbia Lloyds has developed an innovative fee structure that targets problematic risks.

In future rating cycles, the ratings may be downgraded if Columbia Lloyds has a continuation of adverse operating results and declining risk-adjusted capitalization. Removal of the negative outlook is contingent upon the company’s ability to reverse its adverse operating performance trend and improve its overall risk-adjusted capitalization.

The methodology used in determining these ratings is Best’s Credit Rating Methodology, which provides a comprehensive explanation of A.M. Best’s rating process and contains the different rating criteria employed in the rating process. Key criteria utilized include: “Risk Management and the Rating Process for Insurance Companies”; “Understanding BCAR for Property/Casualty Insurers”; and “Rating Members of Insurance Groups.” Best’s Credit Rating Methodology can be found at www.ambest.com/ratings/methodology.

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